The Full Wiki

More info on Handbook of British Birds

Handbook of British Birds: Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Handbook of British Birds was a pioneering bird guide by H.F. Witherby, Rev. F.C.R. Jourdain, Norman F. Ticehurst and Bernard W. Tucker, published in five volumes by H. F. & G. Witherby between 1938-1941.


The Handbook

The Handbook, as it was often cited, was itself a much enlarged and revised version of H.F. Witherby's Practical Handbook of British Birds (published between 1919 and 1924 as two volumes in three parts).

Some of the plates were by Marinus Adrianus Koekkoek and were licensed after they were painted for Ornithologia Neerlandica, de vogels van Nederland by Eduard Daniel van Oort (published 1922-1935).

The Handbook was reprinted a number of times, until at least the eight impression in 1958. The later printings (they were not described as new editions) having a few pages devoted to "additions and corrections" to previous "impressions", but few of these are of great significance. In only a few cases was the main text correspondingly corrected.

Eventually, it was superseded by The Birds of the Western Palearctic.

Popular Handbook

A single-volume concise edition, The Popular Handbook of British birds was produced by Philip Hollom in 1952. It used descriptions drawn from the Handbook and updated accounts of their status and distribution. Revised editions appeared in 1955, 1962, 1968 and 1988. These editions were far more heavily revised than those of the original Handbook, not least to take account of changes in bird taxonomy, as described in each edition's new forward.


Fourth edition

(SBN 85493 002 7)

The 1968 edition complied with the then-new British Ornithologists' Union checklist, and incorporated further research by J.L.F. Parslow. Its 511 numbered pages described 330 species. The eggs of all breeding species were illustrated, at life size, mostly in colour

Fifth edition

(ISBN 0-85493-169-4)

Produced in 1988, this was the first edition not to include the forwards from preceding editions. The entire test was reset, the status and distribution accounts were again revised, and the species sorted into the then-current taxonomic order, ending with the buntings. The jacket illustration showed Blue Tit, Coal Tit and Long-tailed Tit, with a Great Spotted Woodpecker on the spine, and was by Norman Arlott. 350 species were described. It ran to 486 numbered pages.

Popular Handbook of Rarer British birds

Hollom also produced the supplemental The Popular Handbook of Rarer British birds, in 1960. It described over 100 species omitted, on the grounds of their scarcity in Britain, from the Popular Handbook, about 30 of which had not occurred there at the time of the original Handbook.

New plates were specially commissioned from David Reid-Henry (and one, of a Baikal Teal, by Peter Scott), to add to those re-used from the Handbook.


Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address